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tv   The Presidency  CSPAN  January 12, 2015 12:45am-1:55am EST

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our community. it made of self the orting. it changed the hopeless faces of the bread line interfaces of hope and happiness for now, we work again. >> unskilled laborers, the forgotten man of past generations, now work steadily at decent wages. -- to meet the changing needs of our modern world. >> up next on "american history tv," the correspondence between john and abigail adams and the correspondence between john quincy adams and his wife louisa adams. john adams and his son were some of the first to serve as terms of presidencies of the united states.
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the 45 minute program was cohosted by the massachusetts historical society and the abigail adams historical society. >> i will start by introducing our first speaker, if in bullock is the author of "revolutionary brotherhood: freemasonry," and also the author of "american revolution." in addition to being a fulbright scholar in japan, he has also served at many venues, including on "good morning america" and "all things considered." our other speaker is a doctorate at the university of melbourne
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and has specialized training in editing from arizona state university, and neil was up until recently a editor at the adams papers and worked at the university of south carolina and earned a masters degree in public history from north carolina state. so i want to welcome steve, our first speaker. [applause] >> thank you. on the last day of march, 1776 three month before america broke free from britain, abigail adams
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declared that john should have broken free. let me find my slides. let me try to get this going. here we are. john adams was then serving on the second continental congress in philadelphia, urging congress to do just that. abigail, at the family's house in braintree, massachusetts, fully concurred. her letter went on to denounce unlimited power and legislation without representation, and to predict a rebellion. the new nation's law code abigail advise, ought to remember the ladies. john reminded her later that women already had power in practice. abigail completed the topic of discussion three weeks later. although john was not being very generous, she concluded, they could still not compete with men's absolute power.
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between abigail and john, it has long attracted attention. they discussed women's writes in the revolutionary period. from ever the ladies remains carved on a stone statue. abigail's beautifully crafted statements continue to echo through today. the discussion itself is a relatively brief. the statement includes only 560 words. that is less than one and a half pages in printed work. furthermore, it was only a part of the letters that they sent each other.
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here is the first letter, with it marked at the bottom, marked at the top, and there is the entire letter showing the relative portions of their. in all, the remember the ladies exchange totaled 80 less than 10% of the 8000 words that they exchanged. just in that five weeks. john rejected the proposal, and although abigail opens boldly, she concludes by praising female submission. yet abigail and john's discussions still prepay for the studies, and the 18th century discussion gives depth and dimension to the exchange. politeness as it used here does not mean simply good manners or
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following accepted rules and conventions, instead, it is a specific set of attitudes, ideas, and practices that first came together within the upper levels of society in the 18th century, and that spread across the atlantic in which has been called the refinement of america. the term polite had previously meant smooth or polished, a meaning that persisted into the early part of the 18th century. in his groundbreaking 1704 "optics," isaac newton observed that a service could be rubbed to make it more polite. but now it reflects humans and their behavior. a book published in 1702 reflects that honesty, curiosity, and went were merely rough diamonds until they were
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polished by good company and conversation. politeness applied to leadership as well. it's not to discourage anger, cruelty, and lack of concern for other people, not just in gatherings, in governing. these ideals of politeness shaped the exchanges he between abigail and john in three significant ways. they exemplified polite performance, and finally, the discussion itself was about politeness, phrasing directly the issue of how much the ideals of generous interaction affected social relationships. abigail's code mentioned "the
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new code of law which i suppose it will be necessary for you to make" where the husband is the sole representative, leading wives unable to vote, unable to hold property, or to protect themselves from their husband's decision, and this is rangers, abigail reflected, since men were inclined to become tyrants. if power was not restrained, abigail threatened that women will revolt to read they had no voice in creating. having protested arbitrary power, abigail celebrates published interactions, men wish to be happy, she notes, and give
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up the harsh title of a master for the more tender and in during one of friend, that women still needed to be guarded from the vicious and the lawless, just as god protected humanity she argues, men should create the laws to ensure women's happiness. abigail's two paragraphs neatly divide her discretion, while they both advocate greater freedoms for women, each paragraph uses different sets of categories. she first speaks of legality and rebellion against tyrants and representation without -- and having forced rebellion, what is called hard power, abigail turned to tenderness and happiness. this language of soft power was particularly congenial to
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abigail, who famously referred to john s her friend, even my dearest friend. -- john as her friend, even my dearest friend. john would reciprocate. abigail's concerns here were not personal, her contrast between the harsh master and the tender friend taken from a british novel parallels lord chesterfield dissent into fatherhood. he stopped writing to his son as dear boy and began to write dear friend. his son, he declared, had become his own master. restrained use of power lay at the heart of the ideals. this was the desire to please
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people as the essence of politeness. thomas jefferson similarly advised his grandson in 1808 that people one could well i sacrificing their own convenience ease -- by sacrificing their own conveniences. jefferson noted that those who did not contradict themselves made them the most amiable of men in society. a sermon at the 1760 coronation of george iii called on god to unite king and people in the strictest band of affection. in his 1776 common sense -- "common sense," a work that deeply affected abigail, thomas paine wrote that a king was a sullen man lacking the affection
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of the people. the king heard of their death and feelingly. john's response, two weeks later, dismissed abigail's proposal. "as to your extraordinary court of laws, i can do nothing but laugh." what would happen with indians and slaves discontented with authority? women were similarly uneasy. despite rejecting abigail's suggestions, john responded enthusiastically to her subject at her style. he filled his good-humored letter with long lists of specifics, including a dozen
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opponents of the american cause and a half-dozen forms of government, going from mob rule to more. john alternated between formal political science and response of interaction. he shifts to a different group of relationships. he called males little more than fury, and men knew that they needed to take women's opinions into account. in practice, you know that we are the subjects, having praised the ethics of restraint and leadership, he concludes mentioning equal rights and leadership. he says that he hopes general washington would fight for women's effort to control men.
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john's failure to engage in a full argument regarding women's writes -- rights was mentioned again three weeks later. john conceded that the consent of the people was the only moral foundation of the government but he argued the precise application of that principle is unclear. no one, he suggested, contends that everyone should be able to vote, yet some women and some children have as much ability as men. but raising the issue of qualifications at this point john warned, would create unneeded discussions and many troublesome new claims. abigail, however, was not seeking an extended debate. she clearly found john's response invigorating. despite expressing
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disappointment in his response she excitedly describes the conversation -- discussion quoting or paraphrasing long passages of both letters. john's response had called abigail saucy.
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